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Teens sitting together.

Twelve Talks to
Have With Teens

Sources of Strength

Leaning on strengths can help people get through tough times. Talking to the youth in your life about their own sources of strength can help them know what to do and where to turn when they need help or support.

Many schools throughout Jefferson County use the "Sources of Strength" model to help youth use a strength-based approach. The 8 Sources of Strength are:

  • Generosity includes acts of kindness towards others, big or small, and can actually make an impact on how we feel about ourselves. Being generous can often give us a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives. 

  • Spirituality is experienced in many ways, including practicing gratitude. At its core, we are looking at what things feed and lift our spirit, no matter what our cultural heritage and/or spiritual tradition.

  • Medical care allows us to take care of our bodies, hearts and minds and to get help when we need it.

Where do you get strength when you need it? 

  • Mental health is all about getting the support we need and deserve to live life fully. Talking to a trusted person, a counselor, or a doctor, can help empower us overcome struggles we might be facing. 

  • Family support comes from people who support, nurture and care for us, whether our family is related to us by blood, or by choice.

  • Positive friends lift us up, make us laugh, are honest with us and are there for us when we need them.

  • Mentors share their insights and experiences to help guide us to draw on our own strengths to be the best version of ourselves.


  • Healthy activities-- whether they are physical, social, or emotional-- help us unwind, lift our mood, and gain clarity.


Learn more about how Sources of Strength helps to spread messages of hope, help and strength. (3:10)

Conversation starters

  • Show your teen the Sources of Strength wheel and ask if they have seen it around their school. Then ask open-ended questions about it.


  • Comment positively about your teen's healthy coping strategies, whether that is sports, art, music, animals, or reading etc., including how you can see that the activity relaxes them, helps them unwind, brings them closer to friends or helps them express themselves. 

  • Tell a story about when a family member got through a tough time and what they relied on to get through it.

  • Ask if they have a Sources of Strength program at their school and what kinds of things the program does.

Ask yourself

  • What does your teen consider to be their main strengths? Starting with an open mind is key to talking about sources of strength. If your teen's strengths-- or even how they define the strengths-- are different from yours, that creates the potential for a great conversation that will help you better understand what makes your teen tick. Your teen might not like these particular strengths and that's totally fine. Ask them what strengths they use to cope with the ups and downs.

  • How could you promote their feelings of resilience? Remind your teen of times they've dealt with something going on in their lives by getting help. Consider sharing your stories of getting through tough times by relying on your own strengths. 

  • Are you asking for help when you need it--- and encouraging other adults to do the same? 

    • No one should expect to be someone’s only source of strength, especially if they are thinking about suicide. If you or someone you know are in crisis, please contact Colorado Crisis Services, available 24/7, at 1-844-493-8255 or text "TALK" to 38255.

    • A list of resources for help with food, employment, housing, medical access and more is available here. Help spread the word in Jefferson County that asking for help IS an act of strength: The CommUnity Campaign

Resources & Help

Things to Do

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  • Let teens know that getting help, including help with hopelessness or anxiety, shows strength and courage. If you think the teen is having suicidal thoughts, ask them directly if they are thinking about suicide and if they indicate that they are, please get help immediately The Colorado Crisis Line provides confidential and In-Person Support, info & referrals to anyone in need. Open 24/7. Confidential & Immediate. Speak To A Professional. Services include: Relationship Problems, Family Crises, Depression, Anxiety, Suicidal Thoughts, Stress. 

    • Text "TALK" to 38255

    • Call 1-844-493-8255

Rules & Boundaries

  • Make sure that teens in your life are able to tell you-- and others-- about their own boundaries and strengths.

  • Avoid using your teen's coping strategies as a consequence. For example,  you could avoid taking music away from your teen, if that is how they cope with problems.


Equity & Inclusion

  • Youth who are members of groups who currently face discrimination may have less access to sources of strength, including access to physical and behavioral health care or healthy activities when there are high costs or other barriers (such as transportation).

  • Unfortunately, many groups face stigma around treatment and disparities in access to treatment. If you are struggling to find or afford treatment, patient navigators at Jefferson Center may be able to help.

Taking Action in your Community

Reduction of risk factors, and improvements in protective factors, can happen on multiple levels-- within an individual, among friends and family, by adjusting systems in places like schools or businesses, and on the policy level for towns, counties or states.  When improvements happen on all levels, our teens are most likely to thrive. Here are some policy and systems you and/or your teens might be able to influence:


  • Many Jeffco Public Schools implement Sources of Strength, an evidence-based suicide prevention program led primarily by students, along with other social-emotional learning and mental health promotion efforts. 

    •  Ask your school or teachers what trainings they receive and how they are implementing these types of programs and efforts to support all students in the school.

    • Advocate for funding and resources to be allocated for these important needs in schools. 

    • Ask your school how they are implementing health education (which includes social-emotional learning) for all students. Ask if the school knows about the district’s Health Education Policy and related resources. Ask/promote your teen to take a high school health education elective.

    • Also, talk to your community group leaders (religious groups, Scouts, neighborhood organizations, afterschool programs, rec centers, summer camps, etc.) about implementing Sources of Strength. 


  • Jeffco Communities that Care has efforts that promote positive youth development and address hopelessness and anxiety in youth.  

    • Join Jeffco CTC to address local efforts that support youth.


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